A Radio Sermon
By Roy Mason (1894 - 1978)
I want to read from the 142nd Psalm, “I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication. I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me. I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul. I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living. Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I. Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.”
Now there are three things that I want to call attention to in this passage of Scripture, and I shall mention these as I go along. The first thing is One who knows our paths, verse 3. “When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path.” David means by this, when I did not know what to do, did not know what was before me, did not know what to expect, thou, O God, knewest. Personally, I am glad that we do not knew the future. Perhaps there are enough difficulties and problems and troubles out there that if they were all dumped on us at once, we would be utterly crushed. Jesus said, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” I am glad that we do not have to live but one day at a time, and if you are a Christian, you can draw on God, draw on the bank of Heaven for the strength and grace sufficient for each day’s needs. “As thy days, so shall thy strength be,” says God.
Sometimes it is good for people to be out loose from human dependence and help. We sometimes pity a boy or girl who has great responsibilities thrown on them at an early ago. Many a boy suffers the loss of a father early in life, and has had to take upon himself the responsibility and care of a mother and perhaps smaller children. It is hard to shoulder the responsibility, but I have never known of a case in which it did not prove to be good for the boy in the long run. Many a person, when they depend for everything upon someone else, they come to lack any resource, any initiative. Many a son or daughter of wealthy parents would be better off if the family lost every cent in the world, and they had to get to work. It would be the very making of them. And in our lives as Christians, very often the Lord allows hardships and difficulties to come our way, so that we may develop some character, and so we will come to look to Him for help and guidance. The old eagle feeds the baby eaglets until they reach the age where they should begin to fly, then she pushes them out where they will exercise their wings. When they keep crawling back to the nest, she finally tears the nest up and pushes the little eaglets off the cliff, where they will have to use their wings. If it becomes apparent that the baby eagles are going to fall, then the old eagle flies underneath and catches the young eagle and bears it up. And that is exactly what David is talking about here in one of the Psalms, when it says, “He shall bear thee up on eagle’s wings.” And it is exactly the same sentiment expressed in yet another place, where it says, “And underneath are the everlasting arms.” We never develop a strong faith, never come to trust in God as we should, until we are thrown upon His resource, until we feel that we just have to trust Him.
I remember back several years ago, we had Brother Beitzel, a missionary to Africa for the last twenty five years, off and on, and he visited me and told me that 25 years before, he and his wife went out to Africa, and they were taken by a missionary way back among a heathen tribe, and after a few days, the missionary went away and left them. They did not know the language, so they absolutely had to learn it to get along, and for over a year, they did not hear English spoken and did not see a white face. They not only had to learn the native language, they also had to trust God for just about everything. It made me think of David Livingston, who went to Africa and spent years, subjected to diseases and dangers of all kinds. When he went back to England, he was asked how he managed to get along and exist under the circumstances that he lived under. He said there was one thing that sustained him, and that was the promise of One Who has never broken His word, and He said to him, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
For a good many years, the church I was Pastor of contributed to the work of J. R. Saunders, veteran Southern Baptist missionary to China. Brother Saunders was retired by the Foreign Mission Board back some years ago, after serving more than 30 years in China, but to be retired by the Board did not mean to him to be retired by the Lord, and J. R. Saunders carried on one of the best works of his life after he had been retired by the Board. I will never forget what Brother Saunders told me about his early experience in China as a new missionary. He went way back into China where a white face was almost unknown, and where foreigners were called “foreign devils,” and he took typhoid fever and for weeks he lay sick. There were no windows near his bed from which he could see out, but up above, there was an opening, and through that he could look up and could see the blue sky, and he said he lay there and realized that the Mighty God Who stretched that blue sky out overhead knew that he was there in that hut, knew that he was in China, for He knew all the way ahead, and that thought gave him the courage to endure those weeks of sickness. “When my spirit was overwhelmed,” said David, “Thou knewest my path.” And, listen, we Christians have a statement over here in the New Testament that is worth more than a billion dollars. What is it? It goes like this, “For we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” It is easy to glibly roll those words off our tongue, but they were never meant as words to roll off the tongue, they were meant as words to be believed and to be depended upon.
Suppose here is an unsaved man, and he is pretty well stocked with the things of the world, and he says to me, “What do you have as a Christian that I do not have?” He has a house, he has a car, he has good health, he has money in the bank. I can say to him, “I know one thing you do not have, you do not have Romans 8:28, “For we know that all things work together for good to them that love God...” and that means that the old Devil can plan and plot all he pleases, he can get me in a tight place, and then the Lord can flip a switch, so to speak, and lo and behold, every one of his plans can be made to work for my good. The Bible is just packed with illustrations of this. The Devil got Joseph sold into slavery, got him in jail, kept him there for a couple of years, but the Lord flipped the switch and made every evil of those years a paving stone to the path that led to the Prime Ministership of the land of Egypt. If you are not a Christian, you do not have a bit of right in the world to this promise given in Romans 8:28. If you are a lost church member, you do not have any right to it. When the things of life go ill for you, when sickness comes and troubles come and bereavements come, there is not one ray of light for you. I know there are a lot of unsaved people who pity us Christians, and feel superior to us, but one thing we have, we have God on our side. And the Bible says, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” You may not think it amounts to much now, but I will tell you, when you come down to the last breath and look eternity in the face, it amounts to everything, as to whether you are going out yonder to face God as Father, or to face God as Judge. How is it with you today? Can you claim God as Father? Can you claim Romans 8:28? Do you have One to help in the dark moments of life? Can you say with David, “When my spirit was overwhelmed...then thou knewest my path?”
But there is a second thing I want to call attention to in this Psalm, and it is an awful thing to say, and it is found there in verse 4, “Refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.” It is a dreadful thing for a man to reach the place where he feels like that, where he feels that none on earth cares a thing for him. I remember going to a hospital once to see an old fellow who had made a profession of faith under my preaching, and one of the doctors, when he learned who I had come to see, said, “What is the use of fooling away time on that old guy? Why not spend your time on somebody who is more worth-while?” I thought to myself, “Well, I am glad the Lord Jesus Christ is not like that man. I am glad that His heart is compassionate toward the illiterate and the poor and the down-and-out. Poor old blind Bartimaeus raised a clamor when he knew that Jesus was passing by, yelling at the top of his voice, “Jesus, Thou Son of David, ave mercy on me.” The disciples said, “Shut up,” but he kept crying out until Jesus said, “Bring that man to me,” and He said to Bartimaeus, “What is it you want?” “Lord, that I might receive my sight.” And poor old roadside beggar though he was, he got what he asked for, and went his way seeing and rejoicing. I am glad to say to you that when you get so low that you hit bottom, when you can perhaps truly say, “No man cares for my soul,” there is yet One Who does care. The Son of God cares, and just as surely as you crawl your way up to His cross and look up for mercy, you will get up and you will not be down-and-out when Christ gets through with you.
But let me say right here that many people are mistaken when they get the notion that no one cares, that everybody is against them. There are a lot of people who indulge in self-pity. I come in touch with people every once in a while who whine about everything and everybody being against them, and when that is the case in nearly every instance, it is their own fault. Why should everybody be against us, any of us? There has to be something the matter with us when that is the case. When you feel like pitying yourself on the ground that somehow everybody is against you, just quit that business of pitying yourself and begin to look to find out what is wrong with you. Listen, no one ever failed to have friends who showed himself a friend, no one finds everybody unfriendly who shows himself friendly. I have heard church members complain about being sick and no one visited them, but when others were sick, they never did any visiting. If you never go to see other people when they are sick, then do not grouch and grumble because people do not come running the first time you have a bad cold or the toe ache. I have heard church members grumble about a church being unfriendly. No one shook their hand, they said, but the truth was, they never tried to shake anybody else’s hand. Give of the best you have to other people, and the best will come back to you.
But sometimes people go the wrong way and they mess up their lives. They get way down where people are disgusted with them. Maybe they do reach the place where they could say, “No man cared for my soul.” I want to lay this question before you Christians, “Do we care for the souls of people as we should?” But let us see. When we fail to give to missions, do we not? The person who cares for the souls of others will give to send the Gospel to them. A non-missionary church is a church that does not care for human souls, and there is no way around it. Do you know the one thing that I was proudest of concerning the church that I was Pastor of for about 30 years in Tampa? It was the fact that we preached the Gospel to more people than any church in the entire state, by means of radio and by means of missionary work. When we fail to speak about Christ to other people, that shows we do not care about people’s souls. I tell you, we ought to use opportunities to speak to people about the Lord. “No man cared for my soul.” Can those you work around, can your friends and your kinfolks tell the truth and say that? No, not if you do your duty, they can not. Let me go further and say that the Minister who does not invite people to turn to Christ does not care for their souls. In thousands of church services men get up and preach and close their sermons without ever saying a word to the lost. And some churches get to the place where an invitation, outside of revival meeting time, is considered bad taste.
I had a schoolmate who went to supply for a church when we were in the theological seminary, and he preached an evangelistic sermon and invited sinners to turn to Christ, and he was taken to task at the close and told that the Minister was not supposed to do things like that, except during special evangelistic meetings. They had a closed season, apparently, on sinners. Just like they would not allow you to fish for mullet during the closed season down here in Florida, so the Preacher was to observe closed season for sinners, and was not expected to fish for them except during a certain time. My friends, it ought always be open season for sinners in our churches.
Several years ago on Wednesday night, before I got inside the house, a man who had been saved from drunkenness, said, “Could I confess Christ tonight?” I said, “You certainly can,” and right there I began to give an invitation on Wednesday nights, and we had many people saved through the years at our Wednesday night services. When people attend my church, I want them to feel, “That Preacher wants to see me saved, and that church wants to see me saved.”
But now the third and last thing I want to call attention to in this passage is the cry to be let out of ail. In verse 7 it says, “Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name.” In this particular instance, it was a prison of trouble for David. King Saul was after him, he was hiding out in a cave, and he needed deliverance. God heard him, and gave his deliverance, too. But now, he speaks of the soul in prison. That is the condition of every person beneath the sound of my voice who is not a Christian. Bound, handcuffed, fettered. The handcuffs and fetters are different in different cases. I do not know what sort of fetters the Devil has used to hold that soul of yours in his prison house, but I do know that the Lord can knock them off and set you free, if you will trust Him to do it.
Hre is an old alcoholic, his very soul imprisoned and enslaved by his habit. I see such persons often and from the depths of my heart I feel for them. A man in such clutches said to me some time ago, “The fellow who has never been in this condition does not know what a fellow is up against.” Yes, I think I know something about it, I know that it takes more than human strength. Let a man feel and know that he is lost and a dirty, vile sinner in the sight of God, let him get the egotism out of him, and see and realize that he is beyond human redemption. Then let him get down before God and say, “Lord, I give up to you. I trust your Son to save me and clean me up and make a man out of me.” And what will happen? I want to tell you that God will do that thing when you have no strings tied to it, flaying yourself on the mercy of God in Christ, when you trust Him with all that you have and are. With all the trust that you know how to put in Him, He will meet you with His saving grace. There never lived a sinner on this earth that the Lord could not save, if that sinner put himself in His hand. No! No!
"Bring my soul out of prison,” said David. Who feels like this today? I think of a man who was behind prison bars, away from his family, away from his home, away from the things he loved, and the prospect was gloomy indeed. He could not get out, the walls were high and thick, and there was no escape, but he had a friend who worked for his pardon, and that pardon was secured. What he could not do for himself, another did for him. One day this friend came to the prison and said, “I have a pardon here if you will accept it.” Did he accept it? I should say he did, and presently those great prison gates swung open, they clanged shut behind him, and he stepped out under the blue sky, out into the sweet sunlight, out where the air was clear and pure. Ah, he was free, free to go home, free to see his loved ones and friends, free to go where he pleased, free again.
Listen, the dear Son of God came from Heaven to go the bitter way of the cross that He might purchase the pardon of sinners bound in Satan’s prison house of sin. Long ago when He stood in the little synagogue at Nazareth, where He had been brought up, Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” That acceptable year of the Lord is still on, He still opens prison houses and sets at liberty them that are bruised, He still opens eyes that are blinded by sin and the God of this world, He is able to knock off your shackles, whatever they may be, and set you free today. Do you need Him? Do you need His salvation, do you need the life eternal that He is able to give? Find your way up to His cross, then, no matter if you have to crawl, and give up to Him and trust Him and you will find deliverance for your lost, needy soul. You say, “When? Can I be saved sitting right here by my radio?” You certainly can, not by the radio, that instrument can not save you, but the Christ Whom I am proclaiming over the radio can save you, just as He saved that penitent thief on the cross, for He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Have you ever thought that the penitent thief on the cross could not do anything or go anywhere, but he could believe, and that is how a person is saved anyhow, by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. That is what the Bible says. It does not say believe and be immersed, it does not say believe and do this or that, it says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
We have a baptistery in our church, but if it should spring a leak, people would not have to wait to be saved until the leak was repaired, for water does not save, water does not help save. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. The blood of His Son Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin, and if from all sin, then what sin is left to wash away with water? So, I say you can and will be saved as you sit there listening if you will receive Christ as your Savior, for “...to as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” We have had people saved as they listen in, all down through the years, and they have known they were saved, because the Spirit of God bore witness to their spirit that they were the children of God. Try believing and receiving Christ, now, and you will surely be saved, for God says so.
Our Heavenly Father, we thank Thee that none ever came to Christ in this saving faith and was turned away, and that none ever trusted Christ in the sense that the Bible speaks of it, and failed to receive eternal life. We pray that some may take this step today, and that some may begin to live forever and ever. And we pray, our Heavenly Father, that Thou wilt move upon those that are Christian people, that they may be more concerned about the lost, such that they shall speak to their friends and their neighbors and the people with whom they work, about the Savior. Oh, help us to mean more to Thee than we have, as we ask it in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
[From Christopher Cockrell, Editor: The Brerea Baptist Banner, March 5, 2021, pp. 19, 22-24. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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